A four-person United Nations rights panel has released a report citing evidence of war crimes by both sides in Syria. The report comes at a critical moment when the United States and Russia are working to determine the best course of action in Syria.
The report was created by the Commission of Inquiry, which was expanded last fall and is led by Paulo Pinheiro of Brazil. The report is to be presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council on Monday. It relies mostly on interviews with refugees and defectors, as the panel has not been allowed to enter Syria. The data in the report also comes from photographs, video and satellite imagery, and forensic and medical records analyzed by investigators, including former UN war crimes prosecutor Carla del Ponte.
The report is the result of months of investigations that began after the panel issued warnings in February that both sides were committing war crimes and that the violence was worsening as a result of increasing sectarianism and the influence of foreign fighters. At the time the warning was issued, the panel encouraged the United Nations Security Council to refer those responsible for the war crimes to the International Criminal Court.
According to the data cited by the rights panel, both the Assad regime and the anti-Assad rebels are guilty of murder, torture, rape, and indiscriminate attacks on civilians.
The accusations against both sides in the report should come as no surprise, as atrocities at the hands of the Assad regime have been documented for years, and despite media-driven propaganda, the anti-Assad rebels have been proven to have connections to al-Qaeda and have even claimed blame for monstrous crimes, such as eating body parts of its enemies.
In August 2012, Reuters wrote, “Recent news reports from the region have suggested that the influence and numbers of Islamist militants, some of them connected to al Qaeda or its affiliates, have been growing among Assad's opponents.”
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